The Classical Quarterly (New Series)

Articles

Cleopatra as Fatale Monstrum (Horace, Carm. 1. 37. 21)

J. V. Lucea1

a1 Trinity College Dublin

The pregnant phrase fatale monstrum comes at a crucial point in the third and longest of the three sentences of the ‘Cleopatra Ode’. Before it Cleopatra is being hissed from the stage of history with cries of disapproval; after it she is recalled to receive plaudit after plaudit for her courage and resolution. The phrase is emphasized by its position at the start of a stanza followed by a marked pause. Prima facie it is the climax of the vituperation, and has often so been taken. T. E. Page, for example, comments: ‘Horace speaks of Cleopatra as not human, but a hideous and portentous creature sent by destiny to cause horror and alarm.’